After the news that the Big Ten Conference decided to postpone fall sports in 2020 due to the continuing presence of the coronavirus in the United States, Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour released the following statement:
We support the Big Ten's decision to postpone fall sports. I know this was not an easy decision, or one taken lightly by those involved. However, it was the decision the university presidents, Commissioner Kevin Warren and the athletic directors believe was best for the long-term health and safety of our student-athletes.
I would like to begin by saying I know this announcement is one that will hit our student-athletes, coaches and staff very hard. A piece of our student-athletes' collegiate experience has been taken from them for reasons beyond their control and for that, I am heartbroken. I do know our student-athletes are a resilient bunch and will handle today's news with the same resolve as our winter and spring student-athletes did and be better for it in the end.
We also cannot ignore the impact this will have on our community at large, including our local businesses. We have the greatest fans in all of college athletics and we know they will be the first ones cheering our teams on when we return to athletics. We also know our donors will continue to be a big reason why we can continue to support our student-athletes during this difficult time.
Our medical staff, in conjunction with local and state health officials, created an in-depth medical plan and protocols to do our best to keep our student-athletes and staff healthy and safe. Our student-athletes did an amazing job of following the protocols we had in place and I am so appreciative of the sacrifices they have made these last few months. I am so proud of how they have and continue to represent Penn State.
While this is difficult news for our student-athletes, coaches and staff in already uncertain times, I know we will get through this as a Penn State family and be better for it. Our student-athletes will continue to perform at a high level in the classroom and in the community, while also continuing to prepare for our return to sport in the future.
Much like Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in his statement, the uncertainty with the effects of the virus on the health of the student-athletes seemed to be the focus of the Penn State response. Over the last week, the impacts of myocarditis, which is being seen more and more as a complication from the virus in younger populations, has given medical staffs and presidents of universities pause in continuing on with a fall season.
The condition has already made an impact in sports as Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was shut down for the season after still feeling the effects of contracting COVID-19 in the spring. In addition, the mother of Indiana lineman Brady Feeney described the complications her son had dealing with the virus.
By all indications, the decision to move sports to the spring was not one lightly taken by the conference with the hopes that collective action will allow for participation to restart in 2021.